Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Apr 2016

PQQ, Fiber, Astaxanthin, and Blueberry

PQQ, Fiber, Astaxanthin, and Blueberry

By Life Extension.


Pyrroloquinoline quinone-conferred neuroprotection in rotenone models of Parkinson’s disease.

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), a redox cofactor in the mitochondrial respiratory chain, has proven to protect neurons against glutamate-induced damage both in vitro and in vivo. This study was aimed to investigate the possible neuroprotective effects of PQQ in rotenone-induced Parkinson’s disease (PD) model. Pre-treatment with PQQ prevented cultured SH-SY5Y cells from rotenone-induced apoptosis, accompanied by modulation of apoptosis-related proteins (Bcl-2, Bax and Smac), restoration of the mitochondrial membrane potential, inhibition of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, suppression of tyrosine residues nitration, and dopamine redistribution. PQQ also exerted protective effects in an in vivo PD model, which was created by rotenone injection into the medial forebrain bundle of rats. Co-injection with PQQ and rotenone improved the apomorphine-evoked rotation, decreased neuronal loss, increased the ROS-scavenging ability, regulated intracellular expressions of mitochondrial complex subunits (Ndufs1-4), tyrosine hydroxylase, and vesicular monoamine transporter 2. Taken together, our results collectively suggest that PQQ confers neuroprotection in rotenone-induced PD model probably through complex and multifaceted mechanisms, at least involving oxidative stress, mitochondrial integrity, and dopamine functions.

Toxicol Lett. 2015 Nov 4;238(3):70-82

Involvement of ERK1/2 pathway in neuroprotective effects of pyrroloquinoline quinine against rotenone-induced SH-SY5Y cell injury.

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), a redox cofactor in the mitochondrial respiratory chain, has been shown to protect neurons against glutamate-induced damage both in vitro and in vivo. In this study, specific inhibitors to each of the mitochondrial complexes were used to find out which reactive oxygen species (ROS)-generating sites could be affected by PQQ. Then we established an in vitro model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) by exposing cultured SH-SY5Y dopaminergic cells to rotenone, a complex I inhibitor. The neuroprotective effects of PQQ were observed by pretreatment of SH-SY5Y cells with PQQ before rotenone injury, and the possible involvement of certain signaling pathways were investigated. PQQ pretreatment prevented SH-SY5Y cells from rotenone-induced apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner. PQQ neuroprotection was associated with inhibition of intracellular ROS production, modulation of the expression of apoptosis-related Bcl-2 and Bax, and regulation of the level of superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and malondialdehyde. Meanwhile, PQQ up-regulated the gene expression of Ndufs 1, 2, and 4 (complex I subunits), and increased mitochondrial viability and mitochondrial DNA content. Furthermore, PQQ pretreatment activated ERK1/2 phosphorylation in rotenone-injured SH-SY5Y cells, while ERK1/2 inhibition suppressed PQQ neuroprotection. All the results suggested that PQQ could protect SH-SY5Y cells against rotenone injury by reducing ROS production and maintaining mitochondrial functions through activation of ERK1/2 pathway.

Neuroscience. 2014 Jun 13;270:183-91

Dietary pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) alters indicators of inflammation and mitochondrial-related metabolism in human subjects.

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) influences energy-related metabolism and neurologic functions in animals. The mechanism of action involves interactions with cell signaling pathways and mitochondrial function. However, little is known about the response to PQQ in humans. Using a crossover study design, 10 subjects (5 females, 5 males) ingested PQQ added to a fruit-flavored drink in two separate studies. In study 1, PQQ was given in a single dose (0.2 mg PQQ/kg). Multiple measurements of plasma and urine PQQ levels and changes in antioxidant potential [based on total peroxyl radical-trapping potential and thiobarbituric acid reactive product (TBAR) assays] were made throughout the period of 48 h. In study 2, PQQ was administered as a daily dose (0.3 mg PQQ/kg). After 76 h, measurements included indices of inflammation [plasma C-reactive protein, interleukin (IL)-6 levels], standard clinical indices (e.g., cholesterol, glucose, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, etc.) and (1)H-nuclear magnetic resonance estimates of urinary metabolites related in part to oxidative metabolism. The standard clinical indices were normal and not altered by PQQ supplementation. However, dietary PQQ exposure (Study 1) resulted in apparent changes in antioxidant potential based on malonaldehyde-related TBAR assessments. In Study 2, PQQ supplementation resulted in significant decreases in the levels of plasma C-reactive protein, IL-6 and urinary methylated amines such as trimethylamine N-oxide, and changes in urinary metabolites consistent with enhanced mitochondria-related functions. The data are among the first to link systemic effects of PQQ in animals to corresponding effects in humans.

J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Dec;24(12):2076-84

Construction of nerve guide conduits from cellulose/soy protein composite membranes combined with Schwann cells and pyrroloquinoline quinone for the repair of peripheral nerve defect.

Regeneration and functional reconstruction of peripheral nerve defects remained a significant clinical challenge. Nerve guide conduits, with seed cells or neurotrophic factors (NTFs), had been widely used to improve the repair and regeneration of injured peripheral nerve. Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) was an antioxidant that can stimulate nerve growth factors (NGFs) synthesis and accelerate the Schwann cells (SCs) proliferation and growth. In present study, three kinds of nerve guide conduits were constructed: one from cellulose/SPI hollow tube (CSC), another from CSC combined with SCs (CSSC), and the third one from CSSC combined with PQQ (CSSPC), respectively. And then they were applied to bridge and repair the sciatic nerve defect in rats, using autograft as control. Effects of different nerve guide conduits on the nerve regeneration were comparatively evaluated by general analysis, sciatic function index (SFI) and histological analysis (HE and TEM). Newly-formed regenerative nerve fibers were observed and running through the transparent nerve guide conduits 12 weeks after surgery. SFI results indicated that the reconstruction of motor function in CSSPC group was better than that in CSSC and CSC groups. HE images from the cross-sections and longitudinal-sections of the harvested regenerative nerve indicated that regenerative nerve fibers had been formed and accompanied with new blood vessels and matrix materials in the conduits. TEM images also showed that lots of fresh myelinated and non-myelinated nerve fibers had been formed. Parts of vacuolar, swollen and abnormal axons occurred in CSC and CSSC groups, while the vacuolization and swell of axons was the least serious in CSSPC group. These results indicated that CSSPC group had the most ability to repair and reconstruct the nerve structure and functions due to the comprehensive contributions from hollow CSC tube, SCs and PQQ. As a result, the CSSPC may have the potential for the applications as nerve guide conduits in the field of nerve tissue engineering.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015 Feb 20;457(4):507-13

Improvement of functional recovery of transected peripheral nerve by means of chitosan grafts filled with vitamin E, pyrroloquinoline quinone and their combination.

Effects of vitamin E and pyrroloquinoline quinone on peripheral nerve regeneration were studied using a rat sciatic nerve transection model. Ninety male healthy White Wistar rats were divided into three experimental groups (n = 15), randomly: Sham-operation (SHAM), transected control (TC), chitosan conduit (Chit) and three treatment groups (Vit E, PQQ and PQQ + Vit E). In SHAM group after anesthesia, left sciatic nerve was exposed through a gluteal muscle incision and after homeostasis muscle was sutured. In Chit group left sciatic nerve was exposed the same way and transected proximal to tibio-peroneal bifurcation leaving a 10-mm gap. Proximal and distal stumps were each inserted into a chitosan tube. In treatment groups the tube was implanted the same way and filled with Vit E, PQQ and PQQ + Vit E. Each group was subdivided into three subgroups of six animals each and were studied 4, 8, 12 weeks after surgery. Functional and electrophysiological studies, and gastrocnemius muscle mass measurement confirmed faster and better recovery of regenerated axons in Vit E + PQQ combination compared to Vit E or PQQ solely (P < 0.05). Morphometric indices of regenerated fibers showed number and diameter of the myelinated fibers in PQQ + Vit E was significantly higher than in other treatment groups. In immunohistochemistry, location of reactions to S-100 in PQQ + Vit E was clearly more positive than in other treatment groups. Response to PQQ + Vit E treatment demonstrates that it influences and improves functional recovery of peripheral nerve regeneration.

Int J Surg. 2014;12(5):76-82

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) prevents cognitive deficit caused by oxidative stress in rats.

The effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) and coenzyme Q(10) (Co Q(10)), either alone or together, on the learning ability and memory function of rats were investigated. Rats fed a PQQ-supplemented diet showed better learning ability than rats fed a CoQ(10)-supplemented diet at the early stage of the Morris water maze test. The combination of both compounds resulted in no significant improvement in the learning ability compared with the supplementation of PQQ alone. At the late stage of the test, rats fed PQQ-, CoQ(10)- and PQQ + CoQ(10)-supplemented diets showed similar improved learning abilities. When all the groups were subjected to hyperoxia as oxidative stress for 48 h, rats fed the PQQ- and CoQ(10) supplemented diets showed better memory function than the control rats. The concurrent diet markedly improved the memory deficit of the rats caused by oxidative stress. Although the vitamin E-deficient rats fed PQQ or CoQ(10) improved their learning function even when subjected to hyperoxia, their memory function was maintained by PQQ rather than by CoQ(10) after the stress. These results suggest that PQQ is potentially effective for preventing neurodegeneration caused by oxidative stress, and that its effect is independent of either antioxidant’s interaction with vitamin E.

J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008 Jan;42:29-34

Pyrroloquinoline quinone is a potent neuroprotective nutrient against 6-hydroxydopamine-induced neurotoxicity.

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), which is an essential nutrient, has been shown to act as an antioxidant. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are thought to be responsible for neurotoxicity caused by the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). In this study, we investigated the ability of PQQ to protect against 6-OHDA-induced neurotoxicity using human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y. When SH-SY5Y cells were exposed to 6-OHDA in the presence of PQQ, PQQ prevented 6-OHDA-induced cell death and DNA fragmentation. Flow cytometry analysis using the ROS-sensitive fluorescence probe, dihydroethidium, revealed that PQQ reduced elevation of 6-OHDA-induced intracellular ROS. In contrast to PQQ, antioxidant vitamins, ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol, had no protective effect. Moreover, we showed that PQQ effectively scavenged superoxide, compared to the antioxidant vitamins. Therefore, our results suggest the protective effect of PQQ on 6-OHDA-induced neurotoxicity is involved, at least in part, in its function as a scavenger of ROS, especially superoxide.

Neurochem Res. 2007 Mar;32(3):489-95

The putative essential nutrient pyrroloquinoline quinone is neuroprotective in a rodent model of hypoxic/ischemic brain injury.

Pyrroloquinoline quinone is a ubiquitous redox cofactor and putative essential nutrient in mammals. Pyrroloquinoline quinone has recently been demonstrated to depress N-methyl-D-asparate induced electrical responses and is neuroprotective in vitro. In addition, pyrroloquinoline quinone has been demonstrated to act as a free radical scavenger in mammalian tissues. In this study, we demonstrate a neuroprotective effect of pyrroloquinoline quinone in an in vivo cerebral hypoxia/ischemia model in the rodent. Significant reduction in infarct size resulted from pyrroloquinoline quinone pretreatment and also when pyrroloquinoline quinone was administered following induction of hypoxia/ischemia. The neuroprotective effect was not dependent on change in core or cranial temperatures, as there was no difference between temperature measurements in pyrroloquinoline quinone-treated and vehicle-treated controls. No changes in electroencephalographic activity were observed at neuroprotective doses. These findings suggest that pyrroloquinoline quinone may represent a novel class of quinoid reagents of potential use in the treatment of neurological disorders that involve excitotoxicity. This study demonstrates a protective effect of the novel essential nutrient pyrroloquinoline quinone on brain injury in a rodent model of cerebral hypoxia/ischemia. Pyrroloquinoline quinone was neuroprotective when administered before and even after the insult, and did not appear to have significant neurobehavioral side effects. Pyrroloquinoline quinone represents a new class of agents with potential use in the therapy of stroke.

Neuroscience. 1994 Sep;62(2):399-406


Influence of yeast-derived 1,3/1,6 glucopolysaccharide on circulating cytokines and chemokines with respect to upper respiratory tract infections.

OBJECTIVE: Wellmune WGP is a food supplement containing a refined 1,3/1,6 glucopolysaccharide that improves the antimicrobial activity of the innate immune cells by the priming of lectin sites. This study aimed to investigate whether Wellmune decreases the frequency and severity of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) symptoms over 90 d during the peak URTI season in healthy university students. The secondary aims included an assessment of plasma cytokine and chemokine levels. METHODS: This was a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial lasting 90 d. One hundred healthy individuals (18-65 y old, mean age ~21 y) were randomized to 250 mg of Wellmune once daily or to an identical rice flour-based placebo. Health was recorded daily and two or more reported URTI symptoms for 2 consecutive days triggered a medical assessment and blood collection within 24 h. The URTI symptom severity was monitored. Plasma cytokines and chemokines were measured at day 0, day 90, and during the confirmed URTI. RESULTS: Ninety-seven participants completed the trial (Wellmune, n = 48; placebo, n = 49). The Wellmune tended to decrease the total number of days with URTI symptoms (198 d, 4.6%, versus 241 d, 5.5% in the control group, P = 0.06). The ability to “breathe easily” was significantly improved in the Wellmune group; the other severity scores showed no significant difference. Cytokines and chemokines were not different between the groups at study entry or day 90, but monocyte chemotactic protein-1 was lower in the Wellmune group during the URTI. CONCLUSION: Wellmune may decrease the duration and severity of URTI. Larger studies are needed to demonstrate this.

Nutrition. 2012 Jun;28(6):665-9

Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.

The health benefits of dietary fiber have long been appreciated. Higher intakes of dietary fiber are linked to less cardiovascular disease and fiber plays a role in gut health, with many effective laxatives actually isolated fiber sources. Higher intakes of fiber are linked to lower body weights. Only polysaccharides were included in dietary fiber originally, but more recent definitions have included oligosaccharides as dietary fiber, not based on their chemical measurement as dietary fiber by the accepted total dietary fiber (TDF) method, but on their physiological effects. Inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, and other oligosaccharides are included as fiber in food labels in the US. Additionally, oligosaccharides are the best known “prebiotics”, “a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-bring and health.” To date, all known and suspected prebiotics are carbohydrate compounds, primarily oligosaccharides, known to resist digestion in the human small intestine and reach the colon where they are fermented by the gut microflora. Studies have provided evidence that inulin and oligofructose (OF), lactulose, and resistant starch (RS) meet all aspects of the definition, including the stimulation of Bifidobacterium, a beneficial bacterial genus. Other isolated carbohydrates and carbohydrate-containing foods, including galactooligosaccharides (GOS), transgalactooligosaccharides (TOS), polydextrose, wheat dextrin, acacia gum, psyllium, banana, whole grain wheat, and whole grain corn also have prebiotic effects.

Nutrients. 2013 Apr 22;5(4):1417-35

Long-term treatment of hypercholesterolemia with dietary fiber.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the hypocholesterolemic effects of long-term treatment (36 to 51 weeks) with a mixture of dietary fibers (guar gum, pectin, soy, pea, corn bran) administered twice a day. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Fifty-nine subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia who completed a 15-week, placebo-controlled study with the dietary fiber were treated for an additional 36 weeks with 20 g/day of fiber. Subjects were counseled and monitored on a National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Step-One Diet before starting and during treatment. Analyses of changes in lipoprotein values during the additional 36 weeks of treatment took into account changes in weight, diet, and other variables that might have affected the response to treatment. RESULTS: There were no significant effects on the levels of either triglycerides or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Levels of total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and the LDL/HDL ratio were significantly reduced during treatment. The mean percentage reductions from baseline after 51 weeks of treatment were approximately 5% for TC, 9% for LDL-C, and 11% for the LDL/HDL ratio. Changes were apparent after 3 weeks of treatment, with the maximum reductions occurring by the 15th week of treatment. CONCLUSIONS: For subjects on a Step-One Diet who complied with the treatment regimen, the moderate cholesterol-lowering effects of the fiber persisted throughout the 36-to-51 week treatment period.

Am J Med. 1994 Dec;97(6):504-8

Long-term effects of water-soluble dietary fiber in the management of hypercholesterolemia in healthy men and women.

Fifty-one healthy, moderately hypercholesterolemic men and women consuming their usual fat-modified diets completed a 6-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel comparison of 15 g/day supplemental water-soluble dietary fiber (WSDF; a mixture of psyllium, pectin, guar gum, and locust bean gum) and an inactive WSDF control (acacia gum). Compliance with the treatments was > 95%, adverse effects were minimal, and body weights remained constant. The WSDF mixture yielded 6.4% and 10.5% reductions in mean plasma total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, respectively, after 8 weeks, which were sustained at 16 and 24 weeks. Mean plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were unchanged. No significant changes in mean plasma lipid or lipoprotein concentrations were observed in the control group. These data demonstrate that a WSDF approach to cholesterol management is effective as an adjunct to a fat-modified diet in healthy, moderately hypercholesterolemic men and women.

Am J Cardiol. 1997 Jan 1;79(1):34-7

Health benefits of dietary fiber.

Dietary fiber intake provides many health benefits. However, average fiber intakes for US children and adults are less than half of the recommended levels. Individuals with high intakes of dietary fiber appear to be at significantly lower risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increasing fiber intake lowers blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels. Increased intake of soluble fiber improves glycemia and insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic and diabetic individuals. Fiber supplementation in obese individuals significantly enhances weight loss. Increased fiber intake benefits a number of gastrointestinal disorders including the following: gastroesophageal reflux disease, duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids. Prebiotic fibers appear to enhance immune function. Dietary fiber intake provides similar benefits for children as for adults. The recommended dietary fiber intakes for children and adults are 14 g/1000 kcal. More effective communication and consumer education is required to enhance fiber consumption from foods or supplements.

Nutr Rev. 2009 Apr;67(4):188-205

Supplementation with dietary fiber improves fecal incontinence.

BACKGROUND: Human studies have shown that dietary fiber affects stool composition and consistency. Because fecal incontinence has been shown to be exacerbated by liquid stools or diarrhea, management strategies that make stool consistency less loose or liquid may be useful. OBJECTIVE: To compare the effects of a fiber supplement containing psyllium, gum arabic, or a placebo in community-living adults who were incontinent of loose or liquid stools. Mechanisms underlying these effects (e.g., fermentation of the fibers and water-holding capacity of stools) were examined. METHODS: Thirty-nine persons with fecal incontinence of loose or liquid stools prospectively recorded diet intake and stool characteristics and collected their stools for 8 days prior to and at the end of a 31-day fiber supplementation period. During the fiber supplementation period, they ingested psyllium, gum arabic, or a placebo by random assignment. RESULTS: In the baseline period, the groups were comparable on all variables measured. In the fiber supplementation period, (a) the proportion of incontinent stools of the groups ingesting the fiber supplements was less than half that of the group ingesting the placebo, (b) the placebo group had the greatest percentage of stools that were loose/unformed or liquid, and (c) the psyllium group had the highest water-holding capacity of water-insoluble solids and total water-holding capacity. The supplements of dietary fiber appeared to be completely fermented by the subjects as indicated by nonsignificant differences in total fiber, short chain fatty acids and pH in stools among the groups in the baseline or fiber supplementation periods. CONCLUSIONS: Supplementation with dietary fiber from psyllium or gum arabic was associated with a decrease in the percentage of incontinent stools and an improvement of stool consistency. Improvements in fecal incontinence or stool consistency did not appear to be related to unfermented dietary fiber.

Nurs Res. 2001 Jul-Aug;50(4):203-13

Soluble or insoluble fibre in irritable bowel syndrome in primary care? Randomised placebo controlled trial.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effectiveness of increasing the dietary content of soluble fibre (psyllium) or insoluble fibre (bran) in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial. SETTING: General practice. PARTICIPANTS: 275 patients aged 18-65 years with irritable bowel syndrome. INTERVENTIONS: 12 weeks of treatment with 10 g psyllium (n=85), 10 g bran (n=97), or 10 g placebo (rice flour) (n=93). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary end point was adequate symptom relief during at least two weeks in the previous month, analysed after one, two, and three months of treatment to assess both short term and sustained effectiveness. Secondary end points included irritable bowel syndrome symptom severity score, severity of abdominal pain, and irritable bowel syndrome quality of life scale. RESULTS: The proportion of responders was significantly greater in the psyllium group than in the placebo group during the first month (57% v 35%; relative risk 1.60, 95% confidence interval 1.13 to 2.26) and the second month of treatment (59% v 41%; 1.44, 1.02 to 2.06). Bran was more effective than placebo during the third month of treatment only (57% v 32%; 1.70, 1.12 to 2.57), but this was not statistically significant in the worst case analysis (1.45, 0.97 to 2.16). After three months of treatment, symptom severity in the psyllium group was reduced by 90 points, compared with 49 points in the placebo group (P=0.03) and 58 points in the bran group (P=0.61 versus placebo). No differences were found with respect to quality of life. Fifty four (64%) of the patients allocated to psyllium, 54 (56%) in the bran group, and 56 (60%) in the placebo group completed the three month treatment period. Early dropout was most common in the bran group; the main reason was that the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome worsened. CONCLUSIONS: Psyllium offers benefits in patients with irritable bowel syndrome in primary care.

BMJ. 2009 Aug 27;339:b3154

Dietary fiber intake and mortality in the NIH-AARP diet and health study.

BACKGROUND: Dietary fiber has been hypothesized to lower the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. However, little is known of the effect of dietary fiber intake on total death and cause-specific deaths. METHODS: We examined dietary fiber intake in relation to total mortality and death from specific causes in the NIH (National Institutes of Health)-AARP Diet and Health Study, a prospective cohort study. Diet was assessed using a food-frequency questionnaire at baseline. Cause of death was identified using the National Death Index Plus. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate relative risks and 2-sided 95% confidence intervals (CIs). RESULTS: During an average of 9 years of follow-up, we identified 20 126 deaths in men and 11 330 deaths in women. Dietary fiber intake was associated with a significantly lowered risk of total death in both men and women (multivariate relative risk comparing the highest with the lowest quintile, 0.78 [95% CI, 0.73-0.82; P for trend, <.001] in men and 0.78 [95% CI, 0.73-0.85; P for trend, <.001] in women). Dietary fiber intake also lowered the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases by 24% to 56% in men and by 34% to 59% in women. Inverse association between dietary fiber intake and cancer death was observed in men but not in women. Dietary fiber from grains, but not from other sources, was significantly inversely related to total and cause-specific death in both men and women. CONCLUSIONS: Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases. Making fiber-rich food choices more often may provide significant health benefits.

Arch Intern Med. 2011 Jun 27;171(12):1061-8

Guar gum. A review of its pharmacological properties, and use as a dietary adjunct in hypercholesterolaemia.

Guar gum is a dietary fibre advocated for use in lowering serum total cholesterol levels in patients with hypercholesterolaemia. Its mechanism of action is proposed to be similar to that of the bile-sequestering resins. Although guar gum is also employed as an adjunct in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients this review is restricted to its efficacy as a hypolipidaemic agent. Clinical trials indicate that, when used alone, guar gum may reduce serum total cholesterol by 10 to 15%, although some studies show no significant response. An attenuation of this effect during longer term treatment has been seen but evidence of this effect is equivocal. As an adjunct to established therapies (bezafibrate, lovastatin or gemfibrozil) guar gum has shown some promise: it may produce a further reduction in total cholesterol of about 10% in patients not responding adequately to these drugs alone. Gastrointestinal effects, notably flatulence, occur relatively frequently and may be considered unacceptable by some patients. Standardization of formulations and methods of administration of guar gum is required to clarify its pharmacological and clinical properties. Thus, on the basis of presently available evidence guar gum as monotherapy may be considered at most modestly effective in reducing serum cholesterol levels. Nonetheless, further investigation of guar gum is warranted, particularly its use as an adjunct to produce additional reductions in serum cholesterol in patients not responding optimally to other lipid-lowering agents.

Drugs. 1990 Jun;39(6):917-28


Effects of astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract on cognitive function: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

In this study we tried to confirm the effect of an astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract on cognitive function in 96 subjects by a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. Healthy middle-aged and elderly subjects who complained of age-related forgetfulness were recruited. Ninety-six subjects were selected from the initial screen, and ingested a capsule containing astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract, or a placebo capsule for 12 weeks. Somatometry, haematology, urine screens, and CogHealth and Groton Maze Learning Test were performed before and after every 4 weeks of administration. Changes in cognitive performance and the safety of astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract administration were evaluated. CogHealth battery scores improved in the high-dosage group (12 mg astaxanthin/day) after 12 weeks. Groton Maze Learning Test scores improved earlier in the low-dosage (6 mg astaxanthin/day) and high-dosage groups than in the placebo group. The sample size, however, was small to show a significant difference in cognitive function between the astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract and placebo groups. No adverse effect on the subjects was observed throughout this study. In conclusion, the results suggested that astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract improves cognitive function in the healthy aged individuals.

J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2012 Sep;51(2):102-7

Astaxanthin inhibits thrombosis in cerebral vessels of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats.

It is known that vitamin E and some carotenoids have antioxidant activities that alleviate endothelial dysfunction and play a protective role against cardiovascular disease. The current study was designed to examine the hypothesis that astaxanthin, a red pigment carotenoid found in salmonid and crustacean aquaculture, protects stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP) from vascular oxidative damage, hypertension, and cerebral thrombosis. Male 6-week-old SHRSP were classified into 4 groups: a control group, 2 astaxanthin groups, and a vitamin E group. The treated animals were given either astaxanthin or vitamin E for 3 weeks. Body weights in each group were not significantly different from control group during the treatment period, but the usual increase in systolic blood pressure in SHRSP observed with age was significantly suppressed by treatment. Thrombogenesis, assessed using a helium-neon (He-Ne) laser technique in pial blood vessels, together with antioxidant activity, assessed by measuring urinary 8-OHdG levels, were significantly moderated. Urinary nitric oxide (NO) metabolites were increased after treatment. These results supported our hypothesis and strongly suggested that the antithrombotic and antihypertensive effects of astaxanthin or vitamin E may be related to an increase in bioavailable NO, possibly mediated by decreased inactivation of NO by reactive oxygen species.

Nutr Res. 2011 Oct;31(10):784-9

Astaxanthin reduces ischemic brain injury in adult rats.

Astaxanthin (ATX) is a dietary carotenoid of crustaceans and fish that contributes to their coloration. Dietary ATX is important for development and survival of salmonids and crustaceans and has been shown to reduce cardiac ischemic injury in rodents. The purpose of this study was to examine whether ATX can protect against ischemic injury in the mammalian brain. Adult rats were injected intracerebroventricularly with ATX or vehicle prior to a 60-min middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo). ATX was present in the infarction area at 70-75 min after onset of MCAo. Treatment with ATX, compared to vehicle, increased locomotor activity in stroke rats and reduced cerebral infarction at 2 d after MCAo. To evaluate the protective mechanisms of ATX against stroke, brain tissues were assayed for free radical damage, apoptosis, and excitoxicity. ATX antagonized ischemia-mediated loss of aconitase activity and reduced glutamate release, lipid peroxidation, translocation of cytochrome c, and TUNEL labeling in the ischemic cortex. ATX did not alter physiological parameters, such as body temperature, brain temperature, cerebral blood flow, blood gases, blood pressure, and pH. Collectively, our data suggest that ATX can reduce ischemia-related injury in brain tissue through the inhibition of oxidative stress, reduction of glutamate release, and antiapoptosis. ATX may be clinically useful for patients vulnerable or prone to ischemic events.

FASEB J. 2009 Jun;23(6):1958-68

Astaxanthin activates nuclear factor erythroid-related factor 2 and the antioxidant responsive element (Nrf2-ARE) pathway in the brain after subarachnoid hemorrhage in rats and attenuates early brain injury.

Astaxanthin (ATX) has been proven to ameliorate early brain injury (EBI) after experimental subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) by modulating cerebral oxidative stress. This study was performed to assess the effect of ATX on the Nrf2-ARE pathway and to explore the underlying molecular mechanisms of antioxidant properties of ATX in EBI after SAH. A total of 96 male SD rats were randomly divided into four groups. Autologous blood was injected into the prechiasmatic cistern of the rat to induce an experimental SAH model. Rats in each group were sacrificed at 24 h after SAH. Expressions of Nrf2 and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) were measured by Western blot and immunohistochemistry analysis. The mRNA levels of HO-1, NAD (P) H: quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO-1), and glutathione S-transferase-a1 (GST-a1) were determined by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). It was observed that administration of ATX post-SAH could up-regulate the cortical expression of these agents, mediated in the Nrf2-ARE pathway at both pretranscriptional and posttranscriptional levels. Meanwhile, oxidative damage was reduced. Furthermore, ATX treatment significantly attenuated brain edema, blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption, cellular apoptosis, and neurological dysfunction in SAH models. This study demonstrated that ATX treatment alleviated EBI in SAH model, possibly through activating the Nrf2-ARE pathway by inducing antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes.

Mar Drugs. 2014 Dec 18;12(12):6125-41

Astaxanthin offers neuroprotection and reduces neuroinflammation in experimental subarachnoid hemorrhage.

BACKGROUND: Neuroinflamma-tion has been proven to play a crucial role in early brain injury pathogenesis and represents a target for treatment of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Astaxanthin (ATX), a dietary carotenoid, has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammation property in various models of tissue injury. However, the potential effects of ATX on neuroinflammation in SAH remain uninvestigated. The goal of this study was to investigate the protective effects of ATX on neuroinflammation in a rat prechiasmatic cistern SAH model. METHODS: Rats were randomly distributed into multiple groups undergoing the sham surgery or SAH procedures, and ATX (25 mg/kg or 75 mg/kg) or equal volume of vehicle was given by oral gavage at 30 min after SAH. All rats were sacrificed at 24 h after SAH. Neurologic scores, brain water content, blood-brain barrier permeability, and neuronal cell death were examined. Brain inflammation was evaluated by means of expression changes in myeloperoxidase, cytokines (interleukin-1b, tumor necrosis factor-a), adhesion molecules (intercellular adhesion molecule-1), and nuclear factor kappa B DNA-binding activity. RESULTS: Our data indicated that post-SAH treatment with high dose of ATX could significantly downregulate the increased nuclear factor kappa B activity and the expression of inflammatory cytokines and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 in both messenger RNA transcription and protein synthesis. Moreover, these beneficial effects lead to the amelioration of the secondary brain injury cascades including cerebral edema, blood-brain barrier disruption, neurological dysfunction, and neuronal degeneration. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that ATX treatment is neuroprotective against SAH, possibly through suppression of cerebral inflammation.

J Surg Res. 2014 Nov;192(1):206-13

Astaxanthin prevents and reverses diet-induced insulin resistance and steatohepatitis in mice: A comparison with vitamin E.

Hepatic insulin resistance and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) could be caused by excessive hepatic lipid accumulation and peroxidation. Vitamin E has become a standard treatment for NASH. However, astaxanthin, an antioxidant carotenoid, inhibits lipid peroxidation more potently than vitamin E. Here, we compared the effects of astaxanthin and vitamin E in NASH. We first demonstrated that astaxanthin ameliorated hepatic steatosis in both genetically (ob/ob) and high-fat-diet-induced obese mice. In a lipotoxic model of NASH: mice fed a high-cholesterol and high-fat diet, astaxanthin alleviated excessive hepatic lipid accumulation and peroxidation, increased the proportion of M1-type macrophages/Kupffer cells, and activated stellate cells to improve hepatic inflammation and fibrosis. Moreover, astaxanthin caused an M2-dominant shift in macrophages/Kupffer cells and a subsequent reduction in CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell recruitment in the liver, which contributed to improved insulin resistance and hepatic inflammation. Importantly, astaxanthin reversed insulin resistance, as well as hepatic inflammation and fibrosis, in pre-existing NASH. Overall, astaxanthin was more effective at both preventing and treating NASH compared with vitamin E in mice. Furthermore, astaxanthin improved hepatic steatosis and tended to ameliorate the progression of NASH in biopsy-proven human subjects. These results suggest that astaxanthin might be a novel and promising treatment for NASH.

Sci Rep. 2015 Nov 25;5:17192

PQQ, Fiber, Astaxanthin, and Blueberry


Vascular reactivity is affected by dietary consumption of wild blueberries in the Sprague-Dawley rat.

We have previously reported that consumption of blueberry-enriched (BB) diets attenuates the arterial contractile response to alpha(1)-adrenergic stimuli and affects vasomotor tone via endothelium-related pathways. The present study was designed to evaluate vascular function and responsiveness in aortas of weanling male Sprague-Dawley rats fed a control (C) or a BB diet for 7 weeks. Vascular ring studies were conducted in 3-mm isolated rat aortic ring preparations to investigate vasoconstriction induced by L-phenylephrine (Phe) (10(-8)-3 x 10(-6) M) and vasorelaxation induced by acetylcholine (ACh) (10(-8)-3 x 10(-6) M). Agonists were used alone and in the presence of nitric oxide (NO) synthase and cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors. We observed a significantly diminished vasoconstrictor response to Phe in aortic rings from rats fed the BB diet. Inhibition of NO synthase but not COX caused a significant increase in the constrictor response in both dietary groups, with the BB group having the greater response. Similarly, the participation of the NO pathway in endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation induced by ACh was greater in the rats fed a BB diet, while COX inhibition showed no effect on maximum ACh-induced vasorelaxation in any diet group. The vessel sensitivity of BB aortic rings to the vasoconstrictor and vasodilator was significantly reduced when compared to controls. We have concluded that diets enriched with blueberries, fed for 7 weeks in Sprague-Dawley rats, seem to affect NO metabolic pathways in the aorta at basal and stimulated levels.

J Med Food. 2009 Feb;12(1):21-8

Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health.

Berries are a good source of polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, micronutrients, and fiber. In epidemiological and clinical studies, these constituents have been associated with improved cardiovascular risk profiles. Human intervention studies using chokeberries, cranberries, blueberries, and strawberries (either fresh, or as juice, or freeze-dried), or purified anthocyanin extracts have demonstrated significant improvements in LDL oxidation, lipid peroxidation, total plasma antioxidant capacity, dyslipidemia, and glucose metabolism. Benefits were seen in healthy subjects and in those with existing metabolic risk factors. Underlying mechanisms for these beneficial effects are believed to include upregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase, decreased activities of carbohydrate digestive enzymes, decreased oxidative stress, and inhibition of inflammatory gene expression and foam cell formation. Though limited, these data support the recommendation of berries as an essential fruit group in a heart-healthy diet.

Nutr Rev. 2010 Mar;68(3):168-77

Protective roles of Gadd45 and MDM2 in blueberry anthocyanins mediated DNA repair of fragmented and non-fragmented DNA damage in UV-irradiated HepG2 cells.

Growth Arrest and DNA Damage-inducible 45 (Gadd45) and MDM2 proteins, together with p21 and p53, play important roles in cell cycle checkpoints, DNA repair, and genome integrity maintenance. Gadd45 and MDM2 were activated and transcribed instantly by UV irradiation, whereas blueberry anthocyanins (BA) decreased the gene and protein expression levels in HepG2 cells for up to 24 h, and gradually restored the UV-induced fragmented and non-fragmented DNA damage of the nucleus at a time point of 12 h. Nevertheless, UV-irradiated HepG2 cell arrests occurred mainly in the G1 phase, which indicated G1 as a checkpoint. The proteins, p21 and p53, retain cellular integrity, suppressing the oncogenic transformation by interruption of the G1 phase of the cellular cycle, giving time for repairing the damage to DNA, or apoptosis induction if the damage is too severe to be repaired, while MDM2 and Gadd45 concomitantly ensure the presence of p53 and p21. Thus, we conclude that repair, together with Gadd45 and MDM2 genes, were involved in light and dark reaction mechanisms, however, BA could interfere and assist the repair through restoration, although further studies of the complex of the gene cascades triggered and responded to in BA-assisted DNA repair are needed.

Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Oct 30;14(11):21447-62

Mobility limitation in the older patient: a clinical review.

IMPORTANCE: Mobility limitations are common in older adults, affecting the physical, psychological, and social aspects of an older adult’s life. OBJECTIVE: To identify mobility risk factors, screening tools, medical management, need for physical therapy, and efficacy of exercise interventions for older primary care patients with limited mobility. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: Search of PubMed and PEDro from January 1985 to March 31, 2013, using the search terms mobility limitation, walking difficulty, and ambulatory difficulty to identify English-language, peer-reviewed systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and Cochrane reviews assessing mobility limitation and interventions in community-dwelling older adults. Articles not appearing in the search referenced by reviewed articles were also evaluated. FINDINGS: The most common risk factors for mobility impairment are older age, low physical activity, obesity, strength or balance impairment, and chronic diseases such as diabetes or arthritis. Several tools are available to assess mobility in the ambulatory setting. Referral to physical therapy is appropriate, because physical therapists can assess mobility limitations and devise curative or function-enhancing interventions. Relatively few studies support therapeutic exercise to improve mobility limitation. Strong evidence supports resistance and balance exercises for improving mobility-limiting physical weakness and balance disorders. Assessing a patient’s physical environment and the patient’s ability to adapt to it using mobility devices is critical. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Identification of older adults at risk for mobility limitation can be accomplished through routine screening in the ambulatory setting. Addressing functional deficits and environmental barriers with exercise and mobility devices can lead to improved function, safety, and quality of life for patients with mobility limitations.

JAMA. 2013 Sep 18;310(11):1168-77

Effects of blueberry supplementation on measures of functional mobility in older adults.

Limited functional mobility in older adults has been associated with declines in tests of motor, psychomotor, and executive function. Animal studies have demonstrated reversals in indices of motor and psychomotor function via supplementation with polyphenolic-rich foods such as blueberries. The purpose of this study was to examine whether 6 weeks of daily consumption of 2 cups of frozen blueberries affects functional mobility in older adults. Pre- and post-intervention assessments of grip strength, simple reaction time, adaptive gait, and executive function were completed for older adults (age >60 years) partially randomly assigned to a blueberry (BB) supplementation or a carrot juice drink control (CAR) group. Paired t tests were used to assess within-group effects for outcome variables in each supplementation group, and a mixed-model analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to determine group (CAR vs. BB) differences. Mixed-model analysis indicated that the BB group demonstrated significant improvements relative to the CAR group in performance (i.e., number of step errors) of a challenging dual-task adaptive gait test that were independent of differences in gait speed. Within only the BB group, significant improvements were also seen in 3 other measures (i.e., usual gait speed; number of step errors during single-task adaptive gait; and gait speed during dual-task adaptive gait). These preliminary findings support the hypothesis that blueberry supplementation may provide an effective countermeasure to age-related declines in functional mobility and serve as justification for an expansion to larger trials to more fully assess this nonpharmacologic approach to maintaining optimal mobility and independence.

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015 Jun;40(6):543-9.

Visible light-induced lipid peroxidation of unsaturated fatty acids in the retina and the inhibitory effects of blueberry polyphenols.

The lipid peroxidation of unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs) in the retina not only threatens visual cells but also affects the physiological health of the retina. In this work, the potential damages caused by daily visible light exposure on retinal UFAs were evaluated via a simulated in vitro model. At the same time, the benefits of dietary supplementation of blueberries to the eyes were also assessed. After prolonged light exposure, lipid peroxidation occurred for both docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids (DHA and AA, respectively). The oxidized UFAs presented obvious cytotoxicity and significantly inhibited cell growth in retinal pigment epithelium cells. Among the different blueberry polyphenol fractions, the flavonoid-rich fraction, in which quercetin was discovered as the main component, was considerably better in preventing visible light-induced DHA lipid peroxidation than the anthocyanin- and phenolic acid-rich fractions. Then the retinal protective activity of blueberry polyphenols against light-induced retinal injury was confirmed in vivo. On the basis of the above results, inhibiting lipid peroxidation of UFAs in the retina is proposed to be another important function mechanism for antioxidants to nourish eyes.

J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Oct 28;63(42):9295-305

Blueberry (Vaccinium virgatum) leaf extracts protect against Ab-induced cytotoxicity and cognitive impairment.

The ethylacetate (EtOAc) fraction of blueberry leaf extract was investigated to examine the in vivo antiamnesic effects against amyloid b protein (Ab)-induced learning and memory deficit. The fraction showed the highest antioxidant activities, and the generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species was significantly decreased. Cell viability assays revealed the in vitro cytoprotective effects of the fraction, and the cytoplasmic lactate dehydrogenase release into the medium was dose-dependently inhibited. In addition, a chlorogenic acid was identified as a predominant phenolic compound by high-performance liquid chromatography analysis. Antiamnesic effects were evaluated by using in vivo the Y-maze and passive avoidance tests, and preadministration of the fraction attenuated Ab-induced memory impairment in both in vivo experiments. Acetylcholinesterase prepared from mice brain was inhibited by the fraction, and malondialdehyde generation in the brain homogenate was also decreased. These findings suggest that the EtOAc fraction of blueberry leaf extract could possess a wide range of physiological effects against neurodegenerative diseases.

J Med Food. 2013 Nov;16(11):968-76

Dietary supplementation with blueberry extract improves survival of transplanted dopamine neurons.

The exact mechanisms contributing to poor neuronal survival in cell transplantation paradigms for Parkinson’s disease (PD) are unknown. However, transplantation-induced host immune response, inflammation, and subsequent oxidative stress are likely contributors to cell death since dopamine (DA) neurons are exquisitely sensitive to oxidative damage. Multiple studies have attempted to improve cell survival by treating transplant material with antioxidant and antiinflammatory compounds, whereas far fewer studies have attempted to modify the host environment to reduce these threats. Flavonoids, phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables, have antioxidant, antiinflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties. For example, supplementation with dietary blueberry extract (BBE) prevents oxidative stress-associated impairment of striatal motor function during aging and restores lost motor function in aged rats. We hypothesized that dietary supplementation of rodent diets with BBE would improve the survival of embryonic DA neurons transplanted into the unilaterally DA-depleted striatum. Inclusion of 2% BBE in a custom chow diet significantly increased the survival of implanted DA neurons and ameliorated rotational behavior asymmetries as compared to transplanted animals consuming a standard diet. These findings provide support for the potential of dietary phytochemicals as an easily administered and well-tolerated therapy that can be used to improve the effectiveness of DA neuron replacement.

Nutr Neurosci. 2006 Oct-Dec;9(5-6):251-8